Like many people I never tire of the “Can Men be Funny?” debate but today I’d like to turn your attention to another issue which has been raising its pretty little head of late, that of Comedy and Beauty.
In September 2012 Hinkleberk Dick, an influential insider (not an insider of anything specific, just a generic insider), made this statement: “Only ugly men can be funny and the sooner that TV commissioners and big shot producers realise this the better. If I have to watch one more reasonably aesthetically pleasing man on a panel show I’m gonna blow my own brains out”. Harsh or accurate?
Last week I went to an open spot night. For those of you clever enough not to have chosen a career in comedy, this is a night above a pub where hopeful/unstable comedians perform five minutes of material to a room of comedians and two people who have accidentally come upstairs to have a quiet pint. At the open spot night there was an MC who was mercifully not very attractive, although needless to say this did not stop him from coming on to the female comedians, but that is part of his job I think. “Thank goodness he is below average in terms of what we as a society consider attractive” I said casually to my friend, “this means he will be very funny” and indeed he was.
Afterwards we saw ten comedians, eight of which were scientifically slightly below average in terms of appearance (and hygiene but that’s not relevant) and two of whom were very good-looking. We measured our laughter using a Squeezepump. A Squeezepump is a popular tool for measuring laughter. It is fitted below the diaphragm (doesn’t take long and key hole surgery is excellent nowadays so it’s well worth doing) and measures exhalations of air when a laugh is expelled. The bigger the exhalation the bigger the laugh and the funnier the comedian is. Unfortunately it’s not possible at present for the Squeezepump to distinguish between laughter and enthusiastic singing (so results can be inaccurate if it’s somebody’s birthday in the audience) but we’re working on that. Suffice to say when we looked at the evidence of the Squeezepump the results were astonishing. The two good-looking men measured slightly higher than average in terms of laughter, rendering our theory defunct. “Shit!” I exclaimed to my friend. “Perhaps men who are above average in terms of what we as a society consider attractive can be funny”. And her reply chilled me to the core. “I didn’t find them attractive” she said.
My world has been badly shaken. It seems (though I say this with immense caution) that attractiveness is subjective, that humour is subjective, that people might not like being reduced to their appearance and that…perhaps…..writing articles on whether or not an entire gender can be funny and whether or not humour and attractiveness are linked is utter bullshit.
But then a fat man fell over and it was really, really funny and we both laughed so scientifically we were vindicated.